Carlos Sainz grabbed his maiden F1 pole position on a soaking Silverstone circuit, timing his final British Grand Prix qualifying effort to perfection.
In a Q3 when timing was everything on a track starting to dry out after a showery session, the Ferrari man pipped Max Verstappen by 0.072sec.
Charles Leclerc will start third in the other Ferrari, ahead of Sergio Perez – with Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell fifth and eighth respectively.
Although the Silverstone spectators managed to get away without a soaking in FP3, as the clock ticked down to qualifying it became obvious a wet session was on the cards.
It was on with the jackets and up with the umbrellas in the grandstands as a second consecutive F1 rainy qualifying session took place, following Canada two weeks ago.
The downpour was duly underway as the cars headed out for the 18 minutes of Q1, all fitted with intermediate tyres, as Daniel Ricciardo‘s race engineer predicted over the team radio an end to the shower before the first chequered flag – offering the prospect of an exciting denouement had anyone dared to risk slicks.
Thrills and spills appeared inevitable but the 20 drivers kept it remarkably clean and it came down to sheer pace in the conditions at the end, with Haas and local team Aston Martin the big sufferers as all four of their cars finished in the bottom five.
They were joined by Alex Albon, whose Williams team-mate Nicholas Latifi went through to Q2 for the first time this year at his colleague’s expense. Albon was fuming over the team radio: “Why are we doing cool-down laps?” He clearly felt he should have been pushing throughout, to keep his tyres up to temperature.
🚨 OUT IN Q1 🚨
16. Alex Albon
17. Kevin Magnussen
18. Sebastian Vettel
19. Mick Schumacher
20. Lance Stroll
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) July 2, 2022
In contrast to the weather forecast from McLaren, the rain continued steadily if not torrentially in Q2 – but the slippery track was doing nothing to suggest Verstappen was on course for anything other than pole position following a sublime performance in Q3.
Fastest by over seven tenths of a second in Q1, the Dutchman was continuing to shine amid the increasing gloom and again topped the timesheet as the 12 minutes progressed, over four tenths clear and with the usual suspects his closest rivals.
Quicker times proved impossible to achieve as the circuit became wetter and that was bad news for the two AlphaTauris, Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Ocon and Ricciardo – whose McLaren team-mate Lando Norris, safely through, reported aquaplaning – as they were the quintet to bow out.
From not having been in Q2 all season, Latifi, whose place at Williams had been reportedly under serious threat, now found himself in the top-10 shootout – triggering a round of hugs in his garage and a radio message of support from his team boss, Jost Capito.
🚨 OUT IN Q2 🚨
11. Pierre Gasly
12. Valtteri Bottas
13. Yuki Tsunoda
14. Daniel Ricciardo
15. Esteban Ocon
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) July 2, 2022
Full wet tyres were looking inevitable for Q3 but the rain relented just in time to give the inters a stay of execution, with Verstappen spinning – to the cheers of the home crowd – on his first flying lap as Fernando Alonso grabbed the early provisional pole.
Perez reported the surface to be improving and that only looked to be the benefit of his team-mate, who leapt to the top of the leaderboard after his earlier mishap – but as conditions eased, the timing of starting the last lap became critical.
Leclerc ruled himself out of pole with a brief spin that brought out yellow flags for a few seconds, but Sainz snatched P1 and having to lift for the temporary caution proved costly for Verstappen, who could only manage P2 – giving the Spaniard that long-awaited first qualifying P1 in Formula 1.
1 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:40.983
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.072s
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 0.315s
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull 0.633s
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.012s
6 Lando Norris McLaren 1.101s
7 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1.133s
8 George Russell Mercedes 1.178s
9 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1.736s
10 Nicholas Latifi Williams 22.112s
11 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 3.047s (in Q2)
12 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 3.577s
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 3.656s
14 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 3.700s
15 Esteban Ocon Alpine 4.535s
16 Alex Albon Williams 2.949s (in Q1)
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas 3.030s
18 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 3.537s
19 Mick Schumacher Haas 3.579s
20 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 4.301s